AACS: More to be done to combat illicit tobacco market

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has welcomed a new report ranking Australian efforts to tackle international illicit trade at the top of Asia Pacific nations.

At the same time AACS has welcomed a new initiative from the Australian Retailers Association: Australians to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (AUSCAP).

“Australia one of the most lucrative markets for illicit tobacco”

The report, from the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the European Chamber Of Commerce Singapore, scored 17 regional nations on their capacity to deal with the criminals, counterfeiters and smugglers involved in the illegal trade of drugs, tobacco, guns, household goods and all other items sold illegally around the world.

Illicit tobacco has a major impact on honest, responsible retailers of legal tobacco products and there is more work to be done in countering this trade according to Jeff Rogut, AACS CEO.

“As the voice of the retailers and suppliers of Australia’s convenience industry, the AACS is especially concerned with the illicit trade of tobacco, which has an enormous impact on the small businesses in Australia who responsibly retail legal tobacco products.

“Recent high profile seizures of contraband tobacco at our shores highlights the enormity of the problem and the fact that, due to the regulatory environment for legal tobacco in Australia, we’ve become one of the most lucrative markets for illicit tobacco in the world.

“Our police and customs officials do a tremendous job of cracking down on illicit products. However, we need to support this good work with proper regulations. Endless excise hikes on legal tobacco play directly into the hands of these gangs and makes the job of our officials so much harder.”

AACS supports anti-counterfeit initiative

Mr Rogut said AACS supports the Australian Retailers Association’s (ARA) formation of a new anti-counterfeit initiative, AUSCAP.

“Illicit trade affects the profits of many businesses, both small and large, and it can also mean responsible operators are liable for counterfeit products that manage to infiltrate the supply chain,” Mr Rogut said.

The AACS has zero tolerance for any person or business which engages in illicit trade and supports any initiative aimed at deterring counterfeiting and penalising criminals involved in black market operations.”

Announcing the formation of AUSCAP, ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said AUSCAP – a coalition of industry groups, businesses and trademark owners working to stop the illegal trade in consumer goods – was formed because businesses are seeking protection of their goods and intellectual property, while consumers need to be protection from counterfeit and fake goods.

“AUSCAP is bringing business together as a united front to engage with State and Federal government,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Infringements to IP rights, in particular wide scale counterfeiting and piracy, now impact virtually every product category. The days when only luxury goods were counterfeited, or when unauthorised music CDs and movie DVDs were sold only on street corners are long past. Today, counterfeiters are producing fake foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, electronics and electrical supplies, auto parts and everyday household products. Copyright pirates have also created multi-million dollar networks to produce, transport and sell their unauthorised copies of music, video and software.”

Counterfeit and pirated goods also represent a danger to consumers, who are at risk from fake products which often do not meet safety standards, according to the ARA.

AUSCAP is seeking to affiliate with BASCAP (bascap.com, part of the International Chamber of Commerce) to leverage their global research on addressing issues across the supply chain locally, such as the role of Free Trade Zones and intermediaries in facilitating illicit trade.

Further information regarding AUSCAP can be accessed at http://stopillegaltrade.com/.

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